Closer collaboration between Russia and the United States is required to settle the crisis in Syria. Both Russia and the United States have a certain influence in the region. The only question is whether the two countries will collaborate or prefer to ignore each other.
Closer collaboration between Russia and the United States is required to settle the crisis in Syria, according to Jon Alterman, a former US diplomat and Head of Middle Eastern Studies at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS).
At the Middle East Dialogue session of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Marrakech, the American expert said that both Russia and the United States have a certain influence in the region. The only question is whether the two countries will collaborate or prefer to ignore each other.
The ex-diplomat stressed that Russia has strong ties with Damascus, while the United States has close contacts with the countries of the Persian Gulf that support the Syrian opposition. Also, he says, the positions of Russia and the US on Syria are largely similar. Both countries, Alterman says, are concerned with growing extremism in the wake of the Syrian crisis. Specifically, there is the risk of spreading the terrorist threat outside Syria to other regions.
Speaking about another “reset” in Russian–US relations, the expert noted that at first the initiative was on the part of Washington, and now it is Russia’s turn. There is the opinion in the US Government that there are powerful parties in Russia that are trying to avert an improvement in the relations between the two countries. However, Alterman adds, if Russia sees the converging views of Russia and the US on Syria as beneficial for its relations with the US, it could bring about results.
According to Vitaly Naumkin, Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies, the converging positions of Russia and the US on the Syrian conflict may facilitate its settlement.
“There seems to be a concrete basis for bringing the stances of Russia and the US closer together. There is also hope that this will lead to actual results,” Naumkin said.
At the same time, he noted that Israel’s attacks on Syria are not leading anywhere but “only escalate the crisis further.”
During his visit to Moscow last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterparts agreed on organizing a new international forum on the Syria settlement with the participation of officials and the opposition.
The Middle East Dialogue took place in Marrakech, Morocco, on May 14-15.